‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord came from behind in Friesland Friday night to claim a point in the Eredivisie against Heerenveen. The home side grabbed the lead against the run of play early in the second half through Niklas Tarvajärvi, but impact sub Pierre van Hooijdonk pegged the home side back with around ten minutes left in a game that Feyenoord controlled – especially in the opening forty-five – without being able to convert their chances.
Dirk Kuyt passed a late fitness test to continue his four-and-a-half year Eredivisie run without missing a game at the Ave Lenstra stadium. The striker’s appearance also put an end to idle speculation that Feyenoord would be happy to drop points in Friesland.
Indeed, the Rotterdammers started strongly, and continued to play the better football throughout the first half. In his first start, Sherif Ekramy had to wait until just before the break before pulling off a save, which was a good indicator of the visitors’ supremacy. When his time came the Egypt keeper plucked the ball away from the feet of Lasse Nilsson, to dampen Heerenveen’s delayed opening salvo.
Until then the Rotterdammers had thoroughly controlled the game, creating a number of chances along the way. Jonathan de Guzman was the first to try his luck in front of goal, but home keeper Brian Vandenbussche was not too troubled. Salomon Kalou had the next opportunity. After being played in by Nicky Hofs, the youngster shot his load, only to see Vandenbussche catch his effort before it could wreak havoc.
The next attack ended up at the feet of Hofs himself, but again the home side’s last man was up to the challenge. On the half hour the Belgian goalie looked to have been beaten at last when Kalou raced through the Heereveen defence, but his ultimate shot smashed off the post and the sides remained in deadlock. Kuyt had an even bigger possibility not long after, when Breuer defended lazily, but the striker’s lob was centimetres off target. Both Kalou and Hofs had time to test the home keeper’s resolve before the first forty-five, but neither was able to beat him.
Ekramy had saved the Rotterdammers from being punished for some sloppy play just ahead of the break, but the second half was just four minutes old when the Egyptian conceded the first goal of his Feyenoord career. This time Tarvajärvi pounced to drive the ball into the near corner and set Frisian minds dreaming of the Champions League. The goal was against the run of play – indeed, the visitors should have been cruising by then – but that that particular sequence of words has become a cliché only confirms another cliché that you will probably be punished if you don’t take your chances.
The goal put a whole new complexion on the game and suddenly the hosts looked just as capable as their guests. The new tone led Koeman to intervene with around twenty minutes to go, after Hofs had almost given away a penalty when challenging Tarvajärvi in his own penalty box. The coach decided to sacrifice Pascal Bosschaart for impact sub Pierre van Hooijdonk and the gamble would pay off within eight minutes. Van Hooijdonk let Bahia’s ball run on to Kuyt, who played the ball back in the direction of the Big Man, who in turn drove a diagonal drive across Vandenbussche and into the far corner for the equaliser.
The goal handed the initiative back to Feyenoord, but the Maassiders were unable to put the cherry on the cake with a winner, although Kuyt did have a poke near the end. Out of balance however, the Dutch international put his attempt well wide.
SC Heerenveen – Feyenoord 1-1
49’ 1-0 Tarvajärvi
79’ 1-1 Van Hooijdonk
Yellow: Bahia, Breuer, Bruggink
Feyenoord: Ekramy; Collen, Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart (71’ Van Hooijdonk); Greene, De Guzman, Hofs (90’ Pardo); Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
Heerenveen: Vandenbussche; Poulsen, Breuer (59’ H. Drost), Hansson, Tarvajärvi; Bosvelt, J. Drost, Pranjic; Yildirim (46’ Nørregaard), Bruggink, Nilsson.